Older Persons Bill: Department briefing on Redrafted Version.

Social Development

12 October 2005
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


12 October 2005

Chairperson: Ms T Tshivase (ANC)

Relevant document:
Older Persons' Bill [B68B - 2003]

Document handed out:
The Departments revised framework for the Older Persons' Bill.

The Committee was briefed by the Department on the revised Older Persons Bill. Following public hearings and a workshop with other departments, a matrix of concerns regarding the Bill had been drawn up, and a revised framework for the Bill compiled. A service provider had been appointed to deal with the drafting of the Bill, which had been "fleshed out". Although the service provider had been given one month to complete the drafting of the Bill, the new framework meant that the Bill would not be concluded by the 16th of November.

The issue of costing was raised by the Committee, to which the Department responded by elaborating on the comprehensive costing models they had been employed in the determination. The question of home-based carers was touched on, with the Department stating that the current service was fragmented and needed to be streamlined, though this would be a long-term process.

Ms N Kela, Chief Director, Department of Social Development, said that following the Public Hearing on the Older Persons' Bill and the meeting with the Portfolio Committee, the Department had acted on the recommendations of the Committee. A workshop had taken place with other Departments that had an interest in the Bill and a matrix of concerns arising from the hearings and the workshop had been drawn up.
The Department had also looked at ways of dealing with these concerns.

The Portfolio Committee had requested a progress report on the Bill and the Department returned with a revised framework. The Department wanted Committee approval of this revised document so that it could proceed with the redrafting of the Bill.

A service provider had been appointed to deal exclusively with the drafting of the Bill. Two new sections had been added, giving "more flesh" to the revised version of the Bill. The arrangement of the sections of the redrafted version of the Bill were explained to the Committee.

Mr Pierre du Preez, Legal Services, said the Bill would not be finished by 16th November and that it would be better not to rush the process but to rather present a Bill that would be acceptable to civil society.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) said the revised framework looked good but asked what time frames the Department had regarding the Bill.

Mr M Waters (DA) said the overall picture was good but he would need to compare it to the original Bill. He asked whether a costing of the Bill had been done and if not, what suggestions the Department had for this. He questioned whether the objectives in Chapter 1 of the revised framework were in addition to those that were already in the Bill. He commented that the new framework was not just a little amendment to the Bill but rather an "extreme makeover". He noted that the draft would have to go back to the NCOP and he questioned the time frames for this.

Ms Kela said that costing had been done using existing costing models developed in the Department. She felt that the costing was more comprehensive than the actual Bill itself because it looked at all the services that the Bill covered. Costing had also been done for three levels of service - basic, intermediate and high level. She said a costing presentation had been given to the NCOP to assess whether the services would be affordable to the Provinces.

In terms of the objectives, Ms Kela said the revised framework tried to strengthen what was already in the Bill. She said she needed assistance from her colleagues with regard to the assessment of time frames. The service provider had been given one month in which to compile a draft Bill. This amended Bill would have to go back to the NCOP as well as to the Portfolio Committee. Time frames were also dependent on parliamentary programming.

Mr B Solo (ANC) agreed that there was no way that the Bill would be completed this year.

Mr Waters asked for clarity on the issue of frail care.

Ms Kela said there had not been a change and Section 3(2) entitled "Home Based Care", was directed at people who were frail.

Ms H Weber said her concern regarded whether there was the capacity to train home-based carers who would need to be able to deal with many different situations. She was also concerned about the capacity to provide all the services contained in the Bill. She questioned whether the Provinces had the resources and capacity to provide free health, services and transport.

Ms Kela said the current services were too fragmented and would need to be streamlined to create an integrated system. A home-based worker should be able to go into the home and attend to all the needs of a household. Affordability was a critical issue and free basic services for the elderly already existed. The provision of transport had been incorporated into the costing models. The services would be implemented over a long time period with a phased-in approach.

Mr Solo said the framework was good. The time frames were dependent on the completion of the new draft. He felt it would not be dealt with this year but this was not a problem as it should not be regarded as a short-term programme and hence it should not be rushed. He recommended that the framework be accepted.

Ms Dudley stated that the concept of an integrated system needed to flow from the Bill. The Committee was already so behind with the timing of the approval of the Bill that it would be advisable for the Committee to state what the new time frames were.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC) responded that the framework was broad enough in terms of its content.

Ms Kela said the draft could probably be available in three weeks time. She added that there was pressure from the Minister also.

Ms Dudley said it would be worthwhile to put the position regarding the Bill to the Programming Committee so that they were aware that the Bill had not been lost and that the process was under control. The Programming Committee should be informed that the drafters were ensuring that the Bill was being carefully drafted.

Mr du Preez said he would meet with the service provider the following week to inquire if the draft could be completed sooner.

Ms T Mahlangu (Head of Older Persons, Department of Social Development) asked whether the Portfolio Committee still wanted to engage with other Departments that had an interest in the Bill.

Mr M Fukula, Committee Secretary, replied that he had made attempts to include the Department of Health and SALGA but the former had been unavailable and the latter had not responded.

Ms Dudley suggested that this process be abandoned as the Department was liaising with other Departments and incorporating issues that that had been raised into the Bill.

Mr du Preez asked whether the meetings scheduled for the following two Fridays could be cancelled.
It was agreed to do so.

The meeting was adjourned.


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